The Copyright Cases: Robin Thicke + Pharrell Williams vs. Marvin Gaye

The essence of MySoundsafe is to keep individuals music protected from the moment it is created, through the final master and beyond. Using blockchain technology, your music is timestamped the moment you upload it on your MySoundsafe profile. This prevents your music from being stolen, and you from having to deal with copyright infringement cases. Each week we will dive into a case that could have benefited from MySoundsafe technologies.

The year is 2013. You were browsing Youtube, probably watching odd and absurd Harlem Shake dances, or Kim andKanye’s engagement video. When all of a sudden you find yourself listening to BillBoards #1 song, “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams. It’s catchy. You find yourself humming the chorus for the next three days. But something about the song sounds familiar but you just can’t put your finger on it. Lucky for you, and not for Thicke/Pharrell, the rest of the world and media figured out what was so familiar about the song; it was already created and released in 1977 by a different artist.

Harlem Shake: Miami Heat Edition

Marvin Gaye released the song “Got to Give It Up” in 1977 and the song has similar bass lines to “Blurred Lines”. Gaye died in 1984, so the trial was led by the artist’s wife and children who owned the sheet music. While listening to the juxtaposed bass lines of the two songs in question, Pharrell Williams even admitted the similarities, saying, “It sounds like you’re playing the same thing.”

The case gets messier. Thicke, during an interview with GQ, admitted that he stole Gaye’s music. Thicke stated, “Pharrell and I were in the studio and I told him that one of my favorite songs of all time was Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up.” I was like, “Damn, we should make something like that, something with that groove.” Then he started playing a little something and we literally wrote the song in about a half hour and recorded it.” Later on, Thicke tried to cover this admission up saying that he was intoxicated during the interview and it wasn’t true.

At the end of the trial, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams had to pay Gaye’s estate $7.3 million. Janie Gaye, Marvin’s wife, told Times, “I hope people understand that this means Marvin deserves credit for what he did back in 1977.”
Thicke and Williams, on the other hand, believed this ruling was a dangerous move for the sustainability of the music industry and copyright regulations. “While we respect the judicial process, we are extremely disappointed in the ruling made today, which sets a horrible precedent for music and creativity going forward,” Williams and Thicke said in a joint statement.
It is our goal at MySoundsafe to keep artists music and creativity safe. So ask yourself, is your music protected? If not, MySoundsafe is here to help.
There is a fine line between copyright infringement and inspiration. One could say it is blurred..

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